Shortly after World War I, Raymond Poincaré, the Prime Minister of France, decided against partnering with Royal Dutch Shell to fund the energy needs of the French people. One of his military commanders, Colonel Ernest Mercier, worked with 90 banks and businesses to establish a new oil company called French Petroleum Company (er, technically, Française des Pétroles Compagnie since they weren’t speaking English). The name might sound prosaic but keep in mind this was the era of “General Electric” and “Standard Oil”. The new undertaking began operations on March 28th, 1924. Today, that business is known as Total, S.A. and it is one of the six supermajor oil powers on the planet.